Cook County, Illinois Treasurer warns U.H. Homeowners and Retirees of local debt hazards
Forbes - Larry Bell - 12/18/2012
Maria Pappas has been Cook County Treasurer since 1998. Her office oversees the finances of the 19th largest government in the United States and collects more than $11 billion annually from property taxes on 1.8 million parcels. She served two terms as a Cook County Commissioner before becoming Treasurer.
While much public attention is directed to national, state and large-city debt issues, Treasurer Pappas warns homeowners and taxpayers to pay careful attention to mounting local public debt in their communities. She is in a solid position to know, having conducted studies of alarming debt conditions across her county’s approximately 2,200 taxing districts.
Maria Pappas: The picture isn’t pretty. Almost everyone’s focus is primarily upon finances of the federal or state governments. Few pay attention to local governments.
In May, 2012, the collective debt reported by the local primary taxing agencies in
was more than $140 billion! To put that in context, the total
debt-per-household in the City of Chicago was $87,720, and
$35,774 in the suburbs. Since local governments cannot print money, they rely
on property taxes as their main revenue source to operate. Cook County
Homeowners might be able to give their homes to their children, but that future generation won’t be able to afford to keep them because of the property taxes, which have doubled over a 10-year period.
I asked the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 2009 for a “Debt Disclosure Ordinance” authorizing my office to collect all this financial information that would provide the answers. Now, when these local governments report their numbers, taxpayers can easily find them on my website at www.cookcountytreasurer.com.
How does your reporting system work?
It’s simple: by the last Tuesday in December, every taxing district uploads its data to a secure website. Voila! The information is immediately available for the public to view. The site enables taxpayers to then “drill down” into each agency listed on the bill. Visitors can click an icon next to each agency and see budgeted revenues, the amount of money collected from the property owner, outstanding debt (including pensions), the 10-year levy history, and the percentage of levy change over 10 years. Visitors can also click a link to view the Annual Financial Report as provided by each taxing district in PDF format.
Fiscal problems are a problem in every different type of local government: townships, villages, school districts, park districts, fire protection districts, sanitary districts, school districts, libraries and more. Taxpayers are on the hook for the debt that each of these governments continues to amass.
States overwhelmingly receive the majority of federal government money as compared to what is distributed to local governments.
The financial situation is bad right now for all local governments, no matter the size. I can’t imagine how future generations will be able to afford it.
The Gail Borden Library in suburban
reported $23.7 million in debt and another $11 million in pension liability. Elgin
Why your town is going broke
Tea Party Economist – Gary North – 1/30/2013
Voters will simply tell the town councils to declare bankruptcy. The elected officials will do this.
When it’s a showdown between voters and ex-unionized pensioners, the pensioners will lose.
The union members who worked all their lives for less money in order to collect fat pensions will get stiffed.
How many votes do the unions have? Not many.
Will voters sacrifice their homes to pay off old city debts? Not a chance.
Will bondholders get stiffed? Of course. How many votes do out-of-town bondholders have locally?
The Great Default is coming. Be prepared.
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